Playing life’s song with only three strings

Earlier this week, I shared a very raw and honest post about what sucks in my life as a mom with multiple special needs kids. Because of the encouragement and prayers of so many, I am beginning to feel like myself again.

Another part of recovering from the week came from finding a new friend. Well, not technically a friend, but a woman who’s heart is dear to my own because she knows what it feels like to hurt – intensely. Some of you may know of Joni Eareckson Tada, the author and speaker who suffered a diving accident over 4 decades ago that left her quadriplegic. This woman lost the use of just about her whole body and has since dedicated her life to helping others with disability overcome their challenges and find hope.

Can I just say that I want to be like her when I grow up?

In her most recent book, A Place of Healing, I’m reading her heartbreaking honesty about the new battle she faces – chronic pain. After years of peace, acceptance and overcoming her disability, life has ripped the scab off her wound and she’s facing the fear, grief and raw brokenness all over again.

But even in her 24-hour battle with pain and other physical challenges, she is undeterred. Today as I read her words, I found a passage I had to read over and over, especially after this week… and because I couldn’t keep my eyes focused through the tears. It’s in the chapter entitled “How Can I Go On Like This?”

So… how can we go on when life nearly breaks us? Joni answers this, in part, by sharing the story of Yitzhak Perlman, the famous violinist, who, during a 1995 concert, broke a string part way through the performance. Instead of getting up and shuffling off stage to get a replacement, he stopped, thought a minute, then signaled the conductor to start the piece again.

Here’s how Joni describes this moment:

“Though anyone who knows music understands that it’s impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings, Perlman was undaunted. Apparently [the audience] could see this superb artist actually recomposing the piece in his head as he went along, inventing new fingering positions to coax never-before-heard sounds from his three-string violin.”

“When the piece was over, they exploded into appreciative applause. Mr Perlman smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, and said in a soft, reverent tone, ‘You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left’” (p. 103).

That was me this week.

I started the week in a pit, and with three strings, I played the rest of the song with all my heart, with all I had left (which, admittedly, didn’t seem like much!) With the support and encouragement of so many behind me, I was able to speak to a group of women in a vulnerable and authentic way that opened beautiful dialogue about how we can be resilient as moms. And today, though I felt completely exhausted, my heart felt whole again. So I spent the day dancing, baking, snuggling and giggling with my little Anna to celebrate her 2nd birthday.

It is never an easy life, this three-stringed song I live. But oh! Those moments of joy that follow the struggle are so very worth it. And they’d be so much more rare without people standing behind me. So, to all who sent notes, brought meals and called this week – thank you!!!

And you? How’s your three-stringed song going today?

If you want to find out more about Joni and her ministry, check out her radio show!


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